Free camping in Colorado’s popular Salida East riverfront camping area may be a thing of the past if the Bureau of Land Management has its way.
In a surprising announcement by the BLM, the land is being considered for inclusion in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, which is managed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW). The agency currently manages 16 sites along the Arkansas River under a Recreation and Public Purposes Act lease.
If the BLM leases Salida Easat to the CPW, camping would no longer be free in one of the last remaining fee-free Arkansas River spots in the area. The CPW would collect day-use fees and, as required by the R&PP Act, use the fees to maintain the area. According to the BLM, currently, all of the developed R&PP lease sites along the Arkansas River require a day-use fee or CPW Parks Pass.
The BLM says fees would be used to improve facilities in Salida East such as restrooms, changing facilities, campgrounds, picnic sites, boat ramps and parking areas.
According to The Mountain Mail newspaper, Salida East would have the same model for fees, but until the campgrounds are developed more, users will pay $10 per night for camping, said AHRA Park Manager Rob White.
RVers who cherish the few free and low-cost overnight camping and fee-free recreation areas left in the U.S. are not happy, including the Escapees RV Club’s Day’s End free camping directory representatives who said in a recent announcement:
Note that the state charges fees in areas like this not only for camping, but also for day use parking and walking to the river. BLM seems to find it easier to get money from leases to states for such land (which the states pay for by collecting fees from the public that BLM is not themselves allowed to charge), than to do the job they are commissioned to do to protect our public lands for free public access and use!
Voice Your Opinion About the Salida East Campground to the BLM
The BLM is taking public comment on this change until November 2nd, 2015.
For additional information or to submit a comment, please contact Melissa Garcia at 719-269-8724 or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Salida East” in the subject line. In the BLM announcement, the agency states: “Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. “